MOUNTAINEER Ellis Stewart has arrived home after his bid to become the first man from Hartlepool to scale Everest ended in disappointment.
Ellis’s dreams were dashed after an avalanche swept down the world’s tallest mountain, killing 16 guides just days before he was due to make his attempt.
The 40-year-old is back with his family after touching down at Manchester airport at the weekend.
Ellis said he is “gutted” he did not get to reach the summit after the climbing season was cancelled following the tragedy.
But he said he is over the moon to be home safely.
Ellis, of Bishop Cuthbert, Hartlepool, had spent £35,000 to try and realise a 20-year ambition.
He said: “I’m very happy to be home but there is still that feeling of what could have been.
“What happened was a tragedy and you have got to count your blessings.
“The avalanche happened 24 hours before we were due to arrive at Everest base camp.
“Some of my team members were at base camp and watched the helicopters that were extracting the bodies.
“The ice fall on the southern side of the mountain was treacherous this year, it had been waiting to happen for a long time.
“Every day sections of ice were coming away, it was just lethal.
“I thought ‘am I walking to my doom here’.
“It was disappointing how it ended but there was more to why the climb was cancelled.
“There was a political agenda at play much bigger than me.
“The one overriding thing people have said to me is ‘you have come home safe’ and that’s the most important thing.”
After the avalanche a row over local guides’ share of revenue from foreign climbers erupted with the Nepal government and ended in a stalemate.
After several days of waiting Ellis and others were forced to pack up and return home,
But Ellis, married to teacher Tamara, 34, and dad to Aaron, 16, Lara, six, and Isla, four, still enjoyed three weeks of trekking in the shadow of Everest.
He added: “It was an amazing experience and completely out of this world.
“I probably got to do more than most people who go out there.”
He also used the trip to raise more than £5,000 for the NSPCC children’s charity.
Ellis, who runs his own leisure clothing company, said he is not even thinking about trying to make a return bid at this stage.
“I just want to throw myself into my work and enjoy the summer with my family,” he added.